Handling Interruptions

There was a time in my life when interruptions really bothered me. I liked living according to a schedule (I still prefer that). I could get irritated when my schedule was interrupted, especially when a deadline loomed. It might be an unplanned visit, a phone call, or an emergency of some sort. But whatever the interruption was, I didn’t like having my plans disrupted.

am less that way now, not because my personality make-up has changed, but because I believe that interruptions are divinely ordained. Events don’t just=2 0occur by happenstance. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” There is a divine purpose for everything that happens in our lives! God is orchestrating every so-called happenstance in our lives day-by-day and is making us more like Jesus in every one of them.

How do you react when your plans are disturbed? Do you get irritated? Do you throw up your hands in disgust?

There was a time when some children were brought to Jesus and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Matthew 19:13 says, “Then little children were brought to him that he might put his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them.”

Jesus didn’t say thanks to the disciples for protecting his time. No, on the contrary, he said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (14). The children didn’t bother Jesus! They didn’t throw his schedule off. It is on this basis of this passage of Scripture that we teach children to sing:

Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world,
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

What a revelation of the character of Christ! He had tender love and affection for little ones and they were not a bother. In another story, Jesus told his disciples, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones…” (Matt. 18:10).

2. Another incident is the time when Jesus was preaching in a crowded home in Capernaum (Mark 2:1-12). Four men, obviously friends of a paralyzed man, brought him to Jesus on a stretcher. But they ran into a problem; there were so many people present in and about the house, they couldn’t get near Jesus. Since there were no sympathetic people in the house that made room for them, they decided to take their friend on the roof of the house, remove a portion of the roof, and let him down.

The house had a flat roof as did most of the houses of that period. There were probably stairs leading to the roof. Up on this flat roof went these men with their friend on the stretcher. When they reached the top they began to make=2 0an opening in the roof. Whatever the roof was made of – reeds, branches, timbers, packed dirt and grass – they made a hole big enough to let their friend down through.

Did you ever wonder what Jesus did when all this was going on? Did he show signs of frustration because he had been interrupted while speaking? Was he irritated at the noise, the falling debris, the commotion? Not at all! Scripture says that he took note of the faith of the four who brought their friend to Jesus and did for him what they sought. In fact, he did more than just heal him; he also forgave him of his sins, which was a greater blessing.

Wherever you look in the Gospels, you will see that Jesus always handled interruptions from t hose in need with compassion and understanding. They didn’t bother him, as they might us. That’s because Jesus loved people; that’s why he responded graciously to them. It could be said of Jesus that “interruptions are the ministry.”

Some of the most beautiful words that fell from the lips of Jesus are these: “I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). The first part of this verse is a declaration of the sovereignty of God in salvation: “All that the Father gives me shall come to me.” But the second part expresses the responsibility of man: “and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out.” Sinners must come to Christ. Those whom the Father has given to the Son will certainly come, but they must come. No one should=2 0ever hesitate and say, “Perhaps I have not been given to the Son by the Father.” On the contrary, according to Jesus, whoever comes to him is welcomed heartily.

Let us remember this: Jesus turned no one away. He always took time to help and to bless. When people came at strange times (like Nicodemus at night) or at awkward moments (the sinful woman in Simon’s house) or even when he had withdrawn to rest (Mark 6:31-34), he received them.

We need to learn to handle interruptions like Jesus did. May God help us to be like Jesus and see interruptions as his will.

– Dean Olive

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